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I don’t just hate ladies, but men who I think act like ladies

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, June 23, 2008 22:47 EDT
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I just brought myself to read the public editor Clark Hoyt’s article about sexism and the Clinton campaign in the NY Times. I was pleasantly relieved to see that he singles out Maureen Dowd, fairly, as the most egregious offender. Even better, he just lets her nonsensical defenses of her noxious misogyny aimed at other women speak for themselves. And there’s only one word for said defenses: FAIL.

Really, I imagine Hoyt cackling so hard while writing this that it’s almost kind of shameful until I remember that this is Maureen Dowd we’re talking about, and she deserves this public shaming. The instances of her over-the-top sexism with regards to Clinton are carefully detailed out.

But Dowd’s columns about Clinton’s campaign were so loaded with language painting her as a 50-foot woman with a suffocating embrace, a conniving film noir dame and a victim dependent on her husband that they could easily have been listed in that Times article on sexism, right along with the comments of Chris Matthews, Mike Barnicle, Tucker Carlson or, for that matter, Kristol, who made the Hall of Shame for a comment on Fox News, not for his Times work…..

Politically correct is never a term one would apply to Dowd’s commentary. Her columns this year said Clinton’s “message is unapologetically emasculating,” and that she “needed to prove her masculinity” but in the end “had to fend off calamity by playing the female victim.” In one column Dowd wrote, “She may want to take a cue from the Miss America contest: make a graceful, magnanimous exit and wait in the wings.”

Her first excuse? She’s not a sexist, because when appropriate, she will feminize men she seeks to humiliate so that she can call them bitches, too.

She said nobody had objected to her use of similar images about men over seven presidential campaigns. She often refers to Barack Obama as “Obambi” and has said he has a “feminine” management style.

Not to get into the land of the wildly offensive, but it’s worth noting that this is the tactic to determine who gets to be a rape victim in prison, too. First you feminize, and then you feel more comfortable beating up on the man that you’ve reimagined as a woman. This isn’t evidence that Dowd isn’t a sexist, so much as that her sexism is as pathological, if not more so, than Chris Matthews’.

Oh, but it gets better. Dowd claims she’s merely satirizing sexism when she reasserts it.

“From the time I began writing about politics,” Dowd said, “I have always played with gender stereotypes and mined them and twisted them to force the reader to be conscious of how differently we view the sexes.”

Yes, because without Dowd’s full enthusiasm in the practice of slurring anyone by calling them a “girl”, society would have completely slipped into a gender-neutral hellhole of togas, with nary a leopard print high heel in sight. Without Dowd holding down the fort and calling men that annoy her by feminizing nicknames and treating all women not-her like they’re alien beings that really deserve some swipes from her claws, the Mars and Venus books would stop selling completely.

Aw, fuck it. I can’t even make fun of that statement properly. It’s self-parodying. But wait, it gets better!

Now, she said, “you are asking me to treat Hillary differently than I’ve treated the male candidates all these years, with kid gloves.”

It’s slightly different. With male politicians, first she had to call them bitches and then say bitches ain’t shit. With female politicians, she can skip the first step.

The article posits that the real question is whether or not Dowd “gets away” with this more because she herself is a member of the sex she considers inferior. That’s not really a question. Not only do we know that women get away with this more easily than men, we know that women who do this are handsomely rewarded by the very men who wish they could be saying it themselves. It’s not that Dowd gets away with sexism. It’s why it’s her job to get away with it.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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